Sree Iyer: Hello and welcome to episode number 96. Today is February 11 2021. I have with me my co-panellist Sridhar Chityalaji. Sridharji, Namaskar and welcome to PGurus channel. It’s a great day out here
Sridhar Chityala: Namaskar and good morning to everybody. It’s always a great day here, but a little bit cloudy and very chilly and it’s been very chilly most of this week, but that’s New York.
Sree Iyer: We are going to quickly cover a lot of ground today. To start off, the vaccine diplomacy of India is winning. A lot of hearts, the latest one being, after having criticized Modi and India on the farmer’s agitation, Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada reached out to Prime Minister Modi requesting for some vaccine and I believe India has accepted. India is not only done that but it is also reached out to many smaller countries, even in the Indo-Pacific region to provide them with vaccines. This vaccine diplomacy has been a huge hit, we want to tip our hat to the Modi government for that and for the detailed analysis of this do watch a video that we put out a few hours ago with Professor MD Nalapat.
Moving on, there has been a read a news release on China Times as well as a statement of the floor of Lok Sabha by the defence minister Rajnath Singh about the troop withdrawal position. We shall wait and see what happens. Sir, do you want to weigh in something on the troop withdrawals?
Sridhar Chityala: I think that the historical precedence is that China never keeps its word. I know India is very very hawkish of this, especially under the present security leadership which is overseeing the matters in India. They don’t withdraw and they watch and they watch and they watch to make sure any strategic positions that India holds is not given away recognizing that this is only for media consumption. There is a token or a modicum move by China and eventually, it only results in further consolidation by China. They use this window to consolidate while under the pretension of making these moves. So my view is that, as long as the present security architecture is lead by the people like Ajit Doval, Bipin Rawat and Naravane and so on, we may see that they will not give away the strategic positions that they occupy on top of the hills, especially around the Kailash. So they will not commit the same blunders that have occurred before. So that’s my observation.
Sree Iyer: Thanks for that update sir, and lets now quickly go over to look at what is this happening in the United States impeachment process. A lot of stuff, a lot of videos being shared, a lot of videos that have not been in the public domain before, what are your initial thoughts? Is this just grandstanding in front of the American public?
Sridhar Chityala: I think that’s what it is because the reason is going into the impeachment, right from the pre-day before yesterday, when Rand Paul introduced the preliminary tests, they found 45 Republicans were not in favour of the impeachment process. 50 Democrats plus 5 Republicans voted in favour. They don’t have the 67 votes, but they use this simple majority as a tool to get onto the political grandstanding. So then what happened yesterday, in the Senate there was a procedural and vote on Tuesday, when the first four-hour session kicked off, 44 to 56 in favour of going for the impeachment. Mr Cassidy was the only one and he weighed in on the basis of the presentation of the evidences rather than the presentation of the data. He said this is not my final vote. I may change my vote when I get back. So even in the second instance, there was no vote. So this process has started. So we are into this, six hours, six hours drama. There is a lot of criticism around the presentation by the Trump lawyers as against the impeachment managers, whether some of the content is curated on both sides to present their point of view. We don’t know because this is not cast in stone. It is only confined to the halls of the house and the senate within the impeachment parameters. So, the Republicans have sat back and said, okay, conduct the show and we will listen and we know what we are going to do. Even for Cassidy, there was a lot of criticism from the Louisiana Republican Committee recognizing that he should not have voted for impeachment etc. So this is very much political, constitutionally, I think we have given a very detailed opinion which is to say there is no constitutional provision to impeach a president who is no longer a president, who has left office. So, I think this dram will continue, hopefully, will end very soon and then we can get on with the main business which is around geopolitical issues and which is also around stimulus which has not yet been passed, plus the whole raft of other things that they want to do, the energy policy etc.
Sree Iyer: Well, let’s take a look at the United States news now and a lot of things have been happening around the United States as people are beginning to start challenging things like Obama Care and some of the Biden initiatives like shelving Keystone pipeline and so on. What do you have for us, sir and where do you think this is headed because some of the states are clearly taking the hardline positions just like NewYork did under President Trump when the covid was really raging.
Sridhar Chityala: Well, I think there are 4 main things that are playing out in the domestic scenario. First and foremost that is playing out is the consequences and the impact of the energy policy especially, no further leases plus the Keystone pipe halt, that’s playing out big. Yesterday, George Bush, not the former president but the Texas land commissioner made a profound statement which is effectively to say they are going to look at all the legal remedies. In many ways, Texas is leading the some of these anti policies, conservative policies of Biden, be it on immigration, be it on the energy policy, be it on the rejoining of some of these Global bodies, the prioritization of the allocation of the stimulus. So clearly, Texas’, the Attorney General. Mr Paxton is leading the efforts. Now you are beginning to see more and more of other divisions stepping in and as you know, Texas is the Energy Center from a training point to point of view for the United States. So I think it’s a bad decision considering that there is going to be a significant impact on the jobs. Now, you can see to the extent that this is so big that a big problem around the immigration which first surfaced has taken a little bit of a backseat especially, the states of Arizona and Texas is concerned and also the wall which is also likely to be stopped. So this is what is playing out and you touched on Obamacare, I think the parts of the Obamacare was set aside and that’s how the prescription-drug program came in under President Trump. Now Biden is going back and saying to the Supreme Court, set aside the Judgment that you made, we want to not only have the Obamacare but we also want to expand the program. So that is going back to the Supreme Court, what’s going to happen, we don’t know.
The third issue that is also making headway is the $10 – $15 minimum wage. That’s again going to be consequential in terms of the employment scenario and make things incompetitive or non-competitive. Now, the weighing-in on that is Sanders seems to concede the point that it would be inappropriate to increase the wages in the middle of a pandemic when we are trying to do the re-employment. So these are the kind of the key major headlines that are making way within the context of the domestic side.
On the international side, in the in terms of the domestic looking outward, the WHO and UN is now little bit back seat, But the WHO, so, Mr Josh Howley and Scott have introduced a bill not to put taxpayers money into WHO because Biden’s one of the first policies was, we are going to join WHO and WHO will be a body by which we will collaborate with rest of the world. China has hurt itself with some of the work that had that it has done. So it begs questions on the relevance of the WHO and to what extent you’re going to fund this institution, which is coming out with statements and outcomes that seem to be inconsistent with the world opinion. So that’s another piece of stuff that is coming up on the floor of the Senate side.
Sree Iyer: Let’s take a quick look at Global News, President Biden had a telephonic conversation with President Xi Jinping of China, maybe you can cover the salient points of that conversation that took place, sir.
Sridhar Chityala: At last Xi Jinping and Biden spoke in last night and they’re the key features that propped up apparently according to the White House released, the paper that has come up. Biden made a very strong plea on the known points. The known points are the human rights violations in Uygur, human rights violations and suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, the aggressive postures that China has taken in the South China Sea in the intervening time between Trump’s departure and Biden’s assumption, and the other area they have also talked about is some of the trade policies, which is the draconian trade policies of China. So these were the four main themes that featured in the discussion: the South China Sea, the human rights, the trade policies, and the virus, the Wuhan virus or the Chinese virus. He has basically said you need to be more transparent in giving the data. He’s not satisfied with the WHO report and he’s asked for more detailed information.
Sree Iyer: Now Myanmar, the United States government has imposed sanctions on the Myanmar Junta which has taken over the government. What is the status on that, and what was the reason for putting the sanctions in place now?
Sridhar Chityala: Well, you know, one of the core policies of the democratic party is, you know democracy and human rights. So, therefore, Myanmar has violated the norms of democracy, usurped power. The United States has blocked or frozen those assets from an access point of view, they have put other types of controls, clearly delivering the message that they must return back to democracy and hand over the power to the elected government rather than the military holding the power.
Sree Iyer: Now, let’s take a look at the other things that are happening in and around in the markets. Colin Powell has said that the interest rates in the United States are going to stay low for a prolonged amount of time because of the challenges faced by the covid. How long do you think the United States will keep the interest rates at near zero, sir?
Sridhar Chityala: Yeah, what the FED Governor Jerome Powell has indicated in his statement which was to the markets yesterday that the unemployment has come to about 6.3%, which is quite remarkable. The latest numbers show there’s some positive momentum around the unemployment. But equally, there are two important elements, one is that the stimulus 1A, 1B has made its impact. Stimulus 2 which is the R&R, the 910 billion is still flowing through the system. Stimulus 3 has not yet been formally launched. The unemployed people who deserve to get this unemployment allowance, that’s likely to expire and so, therefore, they are impacted. That’s number one. The second is the lower-income strata still are in the process of getting back into employment. So he is saying that unless and until this is people who are less than 60,000, 50,000 dollars annual income, they have to come kind of mainstream. It’s not just about 6.3%. So until such time that picks up momentum, we will keep the interest rates low. It’s a very profound statement from Jerome Powell and there is no inflationary kind of tailwinds that he foresees. So they’re going to continue to maintain this 0% policy. Remember 2021 is likely to be 0%, 0% was supposed to stretch almost into the second half of 2022 but these things can change very quickly if there is a spike. Just as we saw within six months from close to 15% unemployment to less than 7% unemployment across two quarters. So these things can change, but what he’s saying is it’s not unemployment numbers, it is the re-employment of the significant segments of the people who are in the unemployment as well as in the lower-income category.
Sree Iyer: Yes, indeed and that’s a subtle differentiation because when Covid struck it was not an economic problem. It was a pandemic and therefore if you remember the initial tranche of stimulus that came along there was a word called furlough used and it was essentially made to intended to convey the message that people’s paychecks will be preserved to a large extent. There was a cut off a hundred thousand you couldn’t if you made more than a hundred thousand a year, you could only get hundred thousand but, it was a very very well thought out and well-executed plan which is why the United States is bounced back 6.3 per cent unemployment rate. Sir, we are at the end of today’s program. If you have anything else to add please feel free to do. So. Otherwise, we will join again tomorrow right now.
Sridhar Chityala: I just want to touch on three important points around the global news because I’m using the little bit of the time window. If you don’t mind. First and foremost is that Iran now Continuing Story of Iran Saga is that now, they have made what you call as the uranium metal. The uranium metal is in is a precursor to the manufacturing of the nuclear bomb. So this is IAEA ( International atomic energy agency) confirming that Iran now has uranium enrich able metal which is now ready for making a bomb. This is where the news was coming from Israel, which is to say that they’re very close to a bomb. So, we could see that’s not very good news because we could see some potential issues blooming as a result of that. The second adjacent to this is the announcement of this exercise, which are Iran, China and Russia in the Indian Ocean. So, the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, you have two planned attacks coming from China with China in both the footprints. What is more worrying is Iran and Russia are getting into that that you know the specific Zone, which is India’s if you recall India’s Providence in terms of the Quad brief looking after that specific segment in partnership with the United States. The Pacific and the South China Sea is Japan and Australia part of the quad. So, while the US navigates from one part to the other party and if you recall the United States has said will come up to the Indian Ocean and then from that point India can kind of take charge and contribute by way of security. So, therefore that’s adjacent to this Iran issue that’s a problem and what that does to the West Asia kind of the peace accord in you know, how it polarizes is another issue. My final point is, it’s very important to take our cognizant as one of the people who said Britain leaving BREXIT is good for Britain because it can re-establish its Global connectivity and not be part of this Coalition of socialism and conservatism which makes up the EU policy framework, so, you can re-exert. So, Britain is now taking it further, one of the first things it did, it formed a trade partnership with India. It formed a trade partnership with ASEAN. Now, it is forming a partnership with Japan if you remember HMS helpless made it survey into the Japan seas, so there is a growing Anglo-Asian partnership and that is now extending into the trans-pacific aliens. So it is possible that Britain and Japan may thwart Chinese attempts to enter the comprehensive transpacific partnership treaty. So this is three discreet but a realignment of some of the geopolitical forces that are happening in that particular part of the world.
Sree Iyer: And that’s it for today. We’ll be back tomorrow. Please do not forget to subscribe to our Channel. You can see the Subscribe button at the bottom right corner of this video any time you can press that thing to subscribe yourself to this channel. Thanks for watching and again, we’ll be back tomorrow same time and Namaskar.
Sridhar Chityala: Namaskar and have a wonderful day.
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